Bringing the wildlife back
The Suffolk parish of Kettlebaston is celebrating the success of a management programme that has seen wildflowers return to the village churchyard over the past eight years.
This summer, pyramidal orchid, woundwort, selfheal, knapweed and adders tongue fern were all flourishing in the churchyard, along with clouds of butterflies, including holly blues and painted ladies.
The driving force behind the scheme is resident Sue Marszal, who was inspired by a wildlife TV programme.
"I had to persuade our local church council of the value of managing the churchyard for wildlife and learn how to manage the land to ensure greater biodiversity" explained Sue. "Our efforts are beginning to bear fruit".
Following advice from the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, half of the churchyard was spared the mower until late summer to allow species to flower and set seed. An Allen scythe was used to cut the hay and villagers got together to rake off the cuttings - and made the most of the occasion by rounding off their morning's work with a ploughman's lunch, washed down with cider.
"Raking off the hay prevents the land becoming too nutrient rich - this would mean invasive species, like nettle and hogweed, could take hold", said Sue.
The grassland in many of Suffolk's urban, suburban, village and rural churchyards is unlikely to have been fertilised or re-seeded and is therefore often rich in wildflowers that are now so scarce.
For help and advice on managing your churchyard for wildlife, contact Suffolk Wildlife Trust on 01473 890089.
With grateful thanks to Let's Talk! magazine, who published this article on 8th November 2003.
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